There are an ever increasing numbers of people who are dumping their old dial-up modems and those slow connections for a much faster Internet experience through DSL, cable, and satellite technologies. In 2002, only 21% of Internet users had broadband connections at home.
Which Internet Access Option is Best for You?
You may be wondering which broadband solution is the best option. While much depends on what’s available in your area, for many users it comes down to a personal choice, centered on convenience, speed, and cost. Let’s examine the various technologies and the relative advantages of each.
Cable Internet Access
Using your home’s existing cable television lines, you can get Internet access included for an additional fee. Expect a large speed increase versus dial-up access. In fact, in many cases, cable Internet access is the fastest alternative. Installation is usually completed quickly with just one visit from your cable company’s technicians. You will also need a cable modem (supplied by the cable company in virtually every instance, but can be purchased separately as well).
The biggest advantage of going with cable access is speed. All things being equal, it is the fastest of the three broadband alternatives, with a top speed of 10 Mbps (Megabits per second). Having said that, cable speeds can be substantially reduced if you share a local network with a lot of other subscribers. People living in densely packed areas, or locations where the cable company has a lot of users on the same network, will only realize a fraction of that top speed. It’s a good idea to call your cable provider and ask some pointed questions about these issues before you order. Better yet, ask neighbors who have cable Internet what kind of speed they get.
DSL Internet Access
Digital Subscriber Line access utilizes your existing telephone line innovatively to greatly increase your Internet speeds. While cable is usually faster, DSL is substantially speedier than traditional dial-up access and offers a much-improved experience for a modest increase in cost. Installation is quick, usually only requiring a simple change at your home’s phone box outside of the house by a phone company technician. You will need a DSL modem, which is included at no extra charge by most providers when you sign an extended service contract. If you live where DSL is not currently available, be patient. Major providers like Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T are spreading their coverage areas quickly. Even many rural areas can expect to have DSL access in the coming months.
Satellite Internet Access
Satellite Internet access uses a small mounted dish and group of electronics to send and receive data through satellites orbiting the Earth over the equator. Users must have a clear view of the Southern sky (in the U.S.) from the face of the dish, unobstructed by trees, buildings, and other obstacles. Coaxial cabling connects the outdoor equipment to indoor send-and-receive equipment that then connects to your computer through a standard USB connector or network card. More details here: http://www.lighthousestudios.org/is-your-internet-slow-enough-to-get-out-of-your-deal/
Overall, cable and DSL are terrific broadband Internet access solutions for the majority of people who live in urban or suburban locations. Satellite access adds a much-needed alternative for folks living in rural areas, completing the coverage area for the vast majority of America and Canada.